Alcohol and the Risk of SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

This study examined alcohol and the risk of SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus. Does drinking either raise or lower the risk of developing the disease? Researchers wanted to know.

Study: Alcohol and the Risk of SLE

The investigators tested the idea that alcohol would be associated with lower risk for SLE compared to abstaining from alcohol. Their logic was that alcohol’s anti-inflamatory action would be beneficial.

Data came from nurses participating in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHSII. NHS recruited over 121,000 nurses in 1976. NHSII recruited over 116,000 in 1989. They were all females living in the U.S.

Biennial questionnaires collected data on lifestyle and and environmental exposures. Alcohol consumption was measured every four years.

The researchers summarized their findings. ‘In these large prospective cohorts of women followed for many years before the diagnosis of SLE, the study found a potential protective association between long-term alcohol consumption and reduced risk of developing SLE.’

SLE: The Disease

SLE is an autoimmune disease. For unknown reasons the immune system begins attacking the body’s own tissues.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are things that increase the chance that a person will develop a disease. Having risk factors doesn’t mean that a person will get the disease. And people with no risk factors can get the disease. There are only a few known risk factors for SLE. They are being

  • Female.
  • Age 10 to 50.
  • African American or Asian.

The symptoms of SLE vary widely from person to person. They may come and go. But almost everyone with SLE has joint pain and swelling. Some develop arthritis.

These are some other common symptoms.

  • Malaise or overall discomfort.
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Skin rash, most often on the face.
  • Fever of unknown origin.
  • Swollen lymph glands.
  • Loss of hair
  • Mouth Sores in the mouth.
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply.

Other symptoms depend on which tissues are attacked by the immune system.


Drinking alcohol over a period of years might reduce the risk of developing  SLE.


alcohol and the risk of SLESource: Barbhaiya, M., et al. Influence of alcohol consumption on the risk of SLE among women in the Nurses’ Health Studies. Arth Care & Res, online DOI: 10.1002/

Note. Opportunity to help medical science. Together, NHS and NHS are the world’s largest and longest-running study of health. NHSIII is now recruiting nurses and nursing students. as participants. Help further our understanding of alcohol and the risk of SLE. The NHSs are a major source of medical knowledge. To learn more, visit NHSIII.